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“If you go to Cypress and want to hike the Howe Sound Crest Trail, within the first hour you have already passed numerous avalanche chutes and corridors where snow can come down and kill you,” said Danks.
Although the Lower Mainland has many seasoned recreators who know how to stay safe, others are “oblivious.”
There are common denominators. “People go out for a hike, they get lost, bad weather comes in and blankets the mountain. They haven’t left a trip plan, they don’t stay in place, they aren’t prepared to stay overnight.”
Nine times out of 10, people follow the creek drainage down, said Danks. “You are going to encounter waterfalls, overhead hazards, avalanches, and you get into steep unforgiving terrain.”
Danks said no one should hike alone, should stay put and not try to self-rescue, and should always carry a light source to signal rescuers, and a satellite phone. “A satellite device can make the difference between life and death,” said Danks.
He urges hikers to educate themselves. “Join a hiking club, take some courses on mountain safety, build your experience. Don’t jump in with both feet and go into these mountains.”
Unfortunately, said Danks, “A lot of people get away with it and share their experience on social media, and others see that and think they can get away with it. Every excursion is situational, depending on the weather and the conditions. It’s a gamble.”
To understand just how treacherous the terrain is, Danks recommends watching the Knowledge Network documentary Search and Rescue North Shore, free online at knowledge.ca/program/search-and-rescue-north-shore